We become more like what we pay attention to, and the more attention we give to something, the more familiar it becomes and the more acceptable it is. Therefore we should make a point of paying attention to those things which will enhance our well-being and avoiding those which will harm us and those whom we value.
Everyone is trying to enhance their life and well-being and are seeking happiness as they see it. There are now seven billion living people and every one of us is doing what we believe is our best course of action. That varies for every one of us every moment of our lives, but we do develop habits and those habits control nearly everything we do. Therefore, we should do as much as we can to make our habits fit our long-term needs as well as possible.
Since our habits are greatly influenced by what we observe, it follows that we should make a point of observing, as much as possible, those things which will enhance our lives. And the opposite is also true; we should avoid observing those things which will corrupt our ability to make our lives better.
People come to anything of which they have the slightest knowledge with a preconception of how everything fits together, and when any new factual information is introduced it is glued into their preexisting set of ideas. If a new idea doesn’t fit a man’s preconception of reality he ignores it. Because of this human propensity it is very important to be exposed to accurate facts before forming any generalized opinion. This avoidance of fundamental errors about reality is most important when we are young. The “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” story is a fine example of a child asking an adult a legitimate question and being lied to by that trusted adult. It is to so destructive because it primes the child to believe things which are untrue. Our best option, as sentient beings, is to identify and avoid invalid facts and corrupt thinking as early in our experiences as possible.
Only evil people would lie to children seeking truth. Stop lying to Virginia about Santa Claus. Lying hurts children! That post follows the idea further, that perception controls their behavior, and when these are distorted by internalized lies the individual is fouled for life. Another post on how to live a happier life is: People are happiest when pursuing a reasonable goal. Having a reasonable and meaningful goal is great; it gives you purpose and organizes your activities and keeps your mind occupied. Of course setting goals depends totally on who you are and what options are available to you. I have found the Probaway Happiness Chart gives many options and these are based on how long and how extensive the happiness attained might be.
Click image to enlarge to a readable size. Click HERE for a printable PDF.
Potentially anyone can spend time at any of these levels of happiness. The ones at the top of the chart are of short duration and are personal. Moving down the chart the levels are increasingly external, extensive and all inclusive. The ones near the bottom of the chart offer more long-term happiness to more people but few people spend much time thinking about how to actualize all humanities total success.
[Update: The Probaway Happiness Scale is similar to Maslow's but it gives far more descriptive detail and choice of specific behavior. Compare the charts.]
By paying attention to the better things in life we automatically assume those qualities as part of our being. Unfortunately, when we are forced to pay attention to destructive things we become corrupted by our familiarity with them. When we choose to pay attention to things a little more time binding on the Happiness Scale and avoid things a little lower on it we will automatically become a happier person.
Living a well-balanced life, utilizing a middle path of moderation in all activities, is available to most adults most of the time and will usually result in a well lived productive life.